Tag Archives: Nova Scotia

Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival 2013

If you aren’t doing anything special this weekend, come to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia for the annual Folk Harbour Music Festival.

Music on the Lunenburg Wharf.

Music on the Lunenburg Wharf.

The festival blends traditional and contemporary folk music in both indoor and outdoor venues, performed by artists famous in the Maritimes and around the World.  This year’s conference, Folk Steps,  focuses on music from Acadie, Louisiana and Quebec.

Music at the Bandstand, Lunenburg Town Hall.

Music at the Bandstand, Lunenburg Town Hall.

I feel the best part of this weekend is the wonderful atmosphere produced: the street cafes are full,  people are clearly enjoying life, and the music is AWESOME.

For more information, go to the Festival’s website http://www.folkharbour.com


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Market Day

Thursday is Farmer’s Market Day in Lunenburg.  If you want great local produce, meats, fish, artisanal products, or just plain gossip, this is the place to be on a Thursday morning.




There’s  great folk music.




These were my takings from this week’ s market.

market 3



My special treat to myself is this  maple syrup infused with lavender and chai.  Produced by Hutchinson’s Farm in the Annapolis Valley, it is recommended to sweeten tea, coffee or to drizzle over salad.  I might just swig it straight from the bottle.  (And yes, those are local blueberries.)

market 2


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On the Water at LYC – Sailfest 2013

We are a family of sailboat racers, and when we are in Nova Scotia we spend a lot of time on the water.

Lunenburg Yacht Club (LYC) is a small sailing club located on Herman’s Island, halfway between Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.  They have a very active Junior Sailing program, from ages 5 (Wet Feet) to 18.  As well as lots of sailing everyday, something is always going on there: ‘Instructor Pie-In-The-Face Day’, ‘Halloween in July’, or ‘Love Boat’ , to name just a few of the theme days the kids participate in.  All together – the location, the sailing program, the friends – make for a magical summer experience.

View towards Lunenburg Yacht Club with competitors leaving the 'beach' and setting out for a day of racing.

View towards Lunenburg Yacht Club with competitors leaving the ‘beach’ and setting out for a day of racing during Sailfest 2013.

Several times a summer there are sailing regattas in the area, and last week was LYC’s turn to host the neighboring clubs for “Lunenburg Sailfest 2013”.  Over seventy kids participated.  I was thrilled to help out on the Race Committee.

This lovely little red Cape Islander was my home for the day.  Common to Atlantic Canada, the Cape Islander is a fishing boat that is said to have been invented on Cape Sable Island in the early 1900s.  Its single ‘keeled’ flat bottom design makes it sturdy and very comfortable.  This one even has a small ‘head’ – very important if one spends the day on the water!

The Race Committee headquarters for LYC Sailfest 2013.

The Race Committee headquarters for LYC Sailfest 2013.

Race Committee work involves setting the race course, initiating start and finish time sequences, and, most importantly, accurately recording the competitors’ finishes.

In ‘one design’ regattas, all sailboats that are alike race against each other.  The theory is that if the equipment is the same, then the performance resides with the skipper and crew.  This is the most effective and fun way to race –  the Olympic races are all structured around this simple premise.  At LYC Sailfest this year there were three classes of boats invited to race:  Laser Radial, Club 420, and Optimist Dinghy.

Laser Radials lining up for a start at LYC Sailfest 2013.

Laser Radials lining up for a start at LYC Sailfest 2013.

To keep this explanation simple,  the Laser Radial is a single handed boat with a smaller rig and sailplan than the Laser (the men’s Olympic boat).  It is the designated single-handed women’s equipment for Olympic competition, and is a popular boat for teenage boys and girls alike when they are developing their sailing skills.

My daughter and her crew racing a Club 420.

My daughter and her crew racing a Club 420 in 2011.

The Club 420 is a double handed dinghy (sailed with skipper and 1 crew) and it is the best introduction to sailing with a spinnaker  that kids have today.  From this boat they learn skills that can be translated to most sailboats they might sail in their lifetime.  We  had 21 show up from local clubs in the area for Sailfest.

A photo depicting my son crossing the finish line in an Optimist Dinghy (some years ago).

A photo depicting my son crossing the finish line in first  in an Optimist Dinghy in 2008.

The Optimist Dinghy was designed in 1947 –  a sturdy, single handed boat for kids to learn in.  In recent years its popularity has grown, and it  is actively raced worldwide by kids from age 7 – 15.  The Opti is usually the first boat kids race, and they learn all about wind strength, wind shifts, boat handling, and starting positions from sailing this boat in the numerous regattas available.  A major North American regatta  might easily see 300 Optimist dinghys show up! Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the 18  Optis racing in Sailfest 2013 – their course was shorter and closer to the clubhouse where they were protected from open water.

"Follow us"

“Follow us” – The Race Committee boat leads the fleet out into the ocean in search of steady wind.

The first day of Sailfest 2013 witnessed very shifty winds starting out of the NW and ending up in the SE by the end of the day.  The oscillations were large enough to make setting an accurate race course difficult and lots of mark changes were required.

Mark Boats waiting for wind.

Mark Boats waiting for wind.

We finally managed to get racing started.  This image below shows the Club 420s, spinnakers flying, coming into the leeward or downwind mark.  They will round that mark, douse their spinnakers and go upwind and downwind once more before sailing for the finish line.

Sailfest 2

The second day of racing saw a steady and more typical sea breeze set in and we were able to set the course early and get racing started.

Two Club 420s reaching for the finish line.  Sometimes, depending on the wind shift, it is just faster to douse your spinnaker and use your jib only as this boat in the foreground is demonstrating.

Two Club 420s reaching for the finish line.  The aft boat is struggling to maintain its spinnaker in the shifting light breeze.

The two days of racing were a tremendous success, the weather was stunning, and everyone had a great time at LYC.

Optis on the beach at LYC.

Optis on the beach at LYC.

Lunenburg Yacht Club is located on Herman’s Island, down the South Shore of Nova Scotia about an hour’s drive from Halifax.  Lunch and Dinner are served most days with bar service.  Call  902-634-3745  or go to http://www.lyc.ns.ca  for more information and directions.

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Back to Nova Scotia

It is soooo good to be back in Nova Scotia for a few weeks this summer.

After a LONG 24 hour drive, we arrived at dawn, to be greeted by our four legged neighbors.  The deer are plentiful on our island, and they clearly LOVE the weeds that I’ve been cultivating in the back garden. (!)

the deer

Speaking of weeds, the Alder bushes have grown so high, that we literally had to beat our way into the house.  I felt like we had entered into one of those fairy tales where the forest has come alive and taken over the woodcutter’s cottage. Sleeping Beauty (okay that was a castle) and  Hansel and Gretel come immediately to mind.   You can see what I mean.

The weeds

It was so hot the first few days, that the only thing to do was go to the beach.

We have our own beach –  a typical rocky Nova Scotia island beach.  You can see the massive fog bank on the horizon – this is usually gone by July but I guess the persistent rains this year have encouraged it to hang around.  Such a wall of fog  clearly marks the end of the known world.  It seems impenetrable, especially when you are running you boat alongside it.

Beach with Fog

We have a lovely neighborhood beach located at the end of Second Peninsula near Lunenburg.  Perfect for a quick excursion to the sea.

Bachmann's Beach

But when it is really hot, you have to go to the local big  surf – Hirtles Beach near Kingsburg is an easy (and scenic) 15 minute drive.

Hirtles 1

Nova Scotia has many many beautiful sand beaches that rival any in the world.  I’m pretty sure most Canadians don’t know that.  I will admit that the water is a little chilly.  Hirtles 2

The great thing about these beaches is that they are rarely crowded – in fact these pictures depict Hirtles on a BUSY day.

Even Marina LOVES going to the beach.

Marina at Hirtles

I always feel that Canadians are great at travelling the world – many have been numerous times to the Caribbean or Europe – but few actually travel their own country.  I cannot tell you how many people I chat with in Toronto who have NEVER been to Canada’s East Coast provinces.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  Beaches such as these abound in Nova Scotia and are unspoiled and unpolluted – a rare treasure.





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Winter Neutrals

Sorting through my photo archive today and want to share a few grouped around the theme ‘winter neutrals’.  I find these images so calming to the eye  –   I hope you enjoy them.








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Winter Road, near Lunenburg.

Winter Road, near Lunenburg, January 2013

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Happy New Year 2013

Every year we spend Christmas Holidays near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  It is magical.

We always drive from Toronto (usually this takes 17 straight hours) and this year, due to bad weather, and a break-down near Quebec at 4 am – sleeping in the car at night in winter was a first for us-  it took a LONG 25 hours door to door.  The following day was beautiful.   A big reward for all that effort.

On the docks in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on December 22, 2012

On the docks in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on December 22, 2012

The Lunenburg Harbour.

The Lunenburg Harbour.

Lunenburg was founded in 1753 and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This means that the town’s unique architecture is protected, recognizing it as an excellent example of a planned British colonial settlement.  In the past, Lunenburg was an important fishing and shipbuilding centre, but now it thrives on tourism (in the summer) and many small diverse industries including a film studio  (HB Studios), airplane industrial design (Composites Atlantic) and a micro-distillery (The Ironworks).  High Liner Foods still processes fish there, but the main product is  being harvested offshore.  One of the main attractions in summer is the Bluenose II, the replica of the original schooner.

The Bluenose Schooner.

The Bluenose II  Schooner.

Usually The Bluenose  sits front and center at the main dock of Lunenburg, but she just underwent an extensive 25 month restoration.  She was relaunched at the end of September 2012 to much celebratory fanfare.   I managed to find her tucked away in a protected area of the harbour,where I understand she is having her spars etc fitted.  Looks like they are going to have her sailing this spring.

On Christmas Eve we always attend service at the historic St. John’s Anglican Church, situated in the heart of the town.  As someone who has done a LOT of work studying and lecturing on cathedral architecture of Europe, I cannot stress how beautiful the interior of this church is.  There was a damaging fire in 2001, and thanks to many local craftsmen, St. John’s was completely restored by 2005.  During the restoration it was discovered, in consultation with Dr. David Turner of St. Mary’s University in Halifax, that the unique pattern of stars on the chancel ceiling were represented exactly as they would have been at sunset in Lunenburg on December 25th, 1 A.D.  It is stunning.

Looking toward the chancel from the nave, St. John's, Lunenburg on December 24th 2012.

Looking toward the chancel from the nave, St. John’s, Lunenburg on December 24th 2012.

Usually the service on Christmas Eve is uneventful.  This year however,  someone had the innovative idea (read ‘crazy’ since it is winter and was quite a chilly evening)  that we should spend half of it outside before the traditional nativity.  I might add here that ” Lunenburgers” go all out on this part, always including a live baby and animals.  This night the ‘holy family’ resided inside a dory, a typical shallow draft fishing boat.  The wise men in this case were fishermen in their yellow rain slickers.

Christmas Eve, St. John's Anglican, Lunenburg

Christmas Eve, St. John’s Anglican, Lunenburg

Great idea, but the congregation was freezing (my gang didn’t bring coats because usually it is really warm inside…so you can imagine how long they lasted!!) The only guys who were warm were the ones who came with the shepherds.

"We came with the Shepherds obviously".

“We came with the Shepherds obviously”.

Christmas Day means a beach walk.  We went to the Hirtles, my favourite in the area.

Walking on Hirtles Beach, Christmas Day 2012

Walking on Hirtles Beach, Christmas Day 2012

Everyone enjoyed themselves.



One thing quickly learned when living beside the ocean is that the weather is volatile.  A beautiful sunny day can easily be followed by one that is stormy.

Winter Sea.

Winter Sea.

And then it is a good idea to stay inside. Read, watch a dvd, or knit.  Pure bliss.

syd dec 27

Happy 2013 to all.

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